Even as laptops with 1920 x 1080 displays have pushed up to 300 Hz, 4K screens have, until recently, been stuck at 60 Hz, especially on laptops. Thankfully, 4K is finally getting faster. Razer, which recently released its Razer Blade 17 Pro has introduced a new configuration with a 4K, 120 Hz display and provided Tom’s Hardware with a pre-production unit to try it out.
The laptop will cost $3,699.99 or €3,999.99. It releases today in the U.S. and China and later this year in the U.K. and Germany. Existing configurations range from $2,499 (with 144 Hz FHD display) to $3,199 (with 240 Hz FHD display).
A few caveats here: The unit we got is an early one, so Razer isn’t letting us do a full review on this thing, or run benchmarks (that will have to be wait for a production unit that may come later). In fact, because it’s early, the company couldn’t guarantee that the screen is as accurate as it will be at launch. The company was, however, confident in brightness and color gamut, so we went ahead and measured that. We have, however, already reviewed a different configuration of this laptop, so you can get some further impressions there.
Here’s what the new configuration looks like spec-wise:
|Display||17.3-inch, 4K (3840 x 2160)|
|CPU||Intel Core i7-9750H|
|Graphics||Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Max-Q (11GB GDDR6)|
|Memory||16GB DDR4-2667 MHz|
|SSD||1TB M.2 PCIe NVMe SSD|
|Networking||Intel Wireless AX200 (802.11/a/b/g/n/ac/ax), 2.5Gb Ethernet|
|USB Ports||4x USB 3.2 Gen 2, Thunderbolt 3|
|Camera||720p HD Webcam|
|Operating System||Windows 10 Home|
|Dimensions (WxDxH)||15.6 x 10.2 x 0.8 inches / 395 x 260 x 19.9 mm|
|Other||Green USB ports|
|Price (as configured)||$3,699.99 or €3,999.99|
The big differences between this and our original review unit are the RTX 2080 Max-Q over an RTX 2070 Max-Q, 1TB of storage rather than 512GB and, of course, the pixel-dense high-refresh display.
Measuring the Razer Blade 17 Pro’s 4K 120 Hz Display
Using our colorimeter, we found that the Blade 17 Pro’s display covered 170% of the sRGB color gamut, beating the premium gaming laptop average of 148%. It also measured 120.4% on the DCI-P3 color gamut and 117.1% on the Adobe RGB gamut.
It measured an average of 322 nits of brightness, a little bit higher than the 318-nit average. At this price, though, I wish it were even brighter.
Gaming on a 4K 120 Hz Display
The Blade 17 Pro’s 4K 120 Hz display was one of many announced at Computex 2019 as an Nvidia Studio laptop, and this panel is the first one to pass through our labs. My first thought for such a display is esports. To play a game in 4K and still push past 60 fps, I’d need something that wasn’t too taxing on the RTX 2080, so I pulled out Overwatch, an old standby that I still love.
On the Ultra preset, I could go past 120 fps, and yes, Overwatch looked smooth. When I played as Mercy on Dorado, healing a teammate playing as Reinhardt, I could easily turn corners and smoothly aim her Cadaceus Blasters at enemies as they quickly blasted and hovered around me.
When I played Dota 2 on ultra preset, I could still go far past 120 Hz if I wanted, but the game did look far smoother in 4K than on a 60 Hz screen as I ran into battle with my creeps and moved the map rapidly with my mouse. But Dota 2 is not exactly a looker, and 4K doesn’t add much to it from a visual perspective.
And while more cinematic adventure games looked nice on the display with vivid colors and high brightness, it’s hard to push a game like Shadow of the Tomb Raider past 60 fps at 4K, even when drastically lowering the settings.
Watching on a 4K 120 Hz Display
In watching my go-to 4K testing movie, the open source film Tears of Steel, I didn’t benefit from the above-60 Hz refresh, but I did from 4K. The character Celia’s neon clothes, with blue jacket arms and pink stripes on her pants popped against a brown bridge and green trees in the background. In one scene in which a sniper looks through his scope, it was easy to see the shingles on the houses in the town he’s aiming towards.
I also watched the trailer for Bad Boys 3: For Life in 1080p, and Will Smith’s Porsche showed a beautiful shade of blue against the warm display and some great reflections of rainbow building lights in the ocean.
Without the ability to benchmark further, we can’t outright recommend or reject the Blade Pro with this display, but I’m very curious about the battery life. For a review of a configuration without it, you can go here.
I will say this: this screen, even on a pre-production model, is nice. If you both play games, do creative work and watch 4K movies, it may be worth looking at, though gamers playing at 240 Hz on an even faster, lower-res FHD display will have the edge in esports.
There are some people who may not care about the difference between 1080p and 4K at this size, or not see a big difference in frame rates over, say, 90 Hz or so. This isn’t for them. But if you’re doing content creation and gaming together, the 4K display may be worth it, and the 120 Hz, if you’re the type who notices it, may give you a slight advantage in certain competitive games. But you’ll also have to shell out $3,699 for the privilege, so you should make sure this really fits your use case.